Grocery Guides

Cocktail Syrups: Types, Usage, and Storage Tips



Last Updated: Sep 28, 2022

What are cocktail syrups?

Cocktail syrups are a mixture of sugar, water, and whatever flavored ingredients you want to add. They can be made at home or purchased in-store. Typically, they include fresh fruit or spices but can include things like tea or herbs. These cocktail accessories help a cocktail stand out with extra flavor.

When did cocktail syrups originate?

Syrups have been used in cocktails since the 1800s, when they became popular throughout Europe. Their popularity grew in the United States in the 1960s when Jerry Thomas released his book called “How To Mix Drinks; or, The Bon Vivant’s Companion.” Before this, many cocktails were made with liquor and fruit/herbs instead of syrup.

How do you make cocktail syrups?

The first step in making cocktail syrups is to make a simple syrup. Combine equal amounts of sugar and water and stir until all of the sugar is dissolved. Using boiling water isn’t necessary, but it will speed up the process. The downside to using boiling water is that as the water evaporates, the syrup will get sweeter, making every batch different.

For a more decadent simple syrup, use two parts sugar and one part water. It lasts longer, and you only have to use half as much in a recipe. Demerara sugar, agave, or honey can be used to replace white sugar, giving each syrup a unique taste.

One of the most versatile and sought-after properties of syrup is the ability to emulsify your cocktail so that everything is perfectly blended together. It helps make the last sip of a drink taste just as good as the first. Make a gum syrup by starting with a cup of rich simple syrup and dissolving 1oz of gum arabic in it. The gum arabic cannot dissolve in cold water like sugar, so make sure the simple syrup is boiling.

There are a few easy-to-make cocktail syrups that have creative flavors. Here are some ideas:

  • Boil fresh pineapple chunks with simple syrup to make a refreshingly fruity cocktail syrup that pairs well with any spirit.
  • Make green tea cocktail syrup by boiling a teabag in a cup of simple syrup. It will add herbal and floral notes to your drink and pair best with a botanical spirit like gin.
  • Another distinctive syrup involves cooking down freshly cut peaches with a couple of cinnamon sticks. This is a great addition to an old-fashioned.
  • If you have an unfinished bottle of wine that went bad, make a syrup out of that too. Just combine one part of sugar to one part of wine and gently heat until all of the sugar has dissolved. This syrup will have all the depth of flavor as the type of wine you used to make it from.

All of these syrups need to be strained before bottling to remove any solids. 

Pouring alcohol in jigger to prepare a cocktail

How do you store cocktail syrups?

Cocktail syrups are usually kept in the refrigerator when not in use. Mixes with just sugar and water can last up to a month in the fridge. If the mixture contains fresh fruit, it may only last a couple of weeks until it spoils. You can store your syrups in the freezer for as long as 1 year. They should not freeze unless the freezer is set on the coldest setting. 

Another way to extend the life of your cocktail syrups is to add 1oz of vodka or grain alcohol to the mixture. This will help slow the spoiling process. You can tell if your syrup is starting to go bad when it starts to turn cloudy. 

What should I look for when buying cocktail syrups?

Look out for cocktail syrups that contain a high amount of sugar. Also, for the best flavor, try to find syrups without a large amount of added ingredients. When it comes to cocktail syrups, the simpler, the better!

If you are looking to have your groceries delivered, you can easily shop for cocktail syrups via Instacart. After adding a product to your cart, use the “Instructions” option to notify your Instacart shopper about any preferences or specific directions on how to choose the best products. Shop for cocktail syrups.

What are some popular types of cocktail syrups?

A few popular commercially produced syrups include:

  • Orgeat: This classic creamy syrup adds a nutty almond and orange-flower water flavor to your cocktails. It is popular in a Mai Tai.
  • Oleo Saccharum: Citrus is the main flavor in this syrup, but it has notes of cardamom, ginger, and lemongrass. It is a nice addition to a French 75.
  • Grenadine: Grenadine is made from both pomegranate and lemon juice. It gives a fruity boost to drinks like the painkiller.
  • Tonic Syrup: Although similar to tonic water, this syrup has a more intense quinine flavor. It usually has a slight citrus flavor as well. It can put a twist on a classic like a gin and tonic. 
  • Oxymel: This ancient syrup recipe is a mixture of vinegar and honey. It can come in this simple version or have other botanicals added to it.
Boozy Refreshing Dirty Shirley Cocktail with Grenadine

How do I find cocktail syrups near me?

You can find cocktail syrups at any grocery store in the drink section or at a specialty drink store. Since they don’t contain alcohol, they can be sold anywhere. If you need to restock on cocktail syrups, place an order for same-day delivery via Instacart! You can even schedule a delivery for a future date.



Instacart is the leading grocery technology company in North America, partnering with more than 1000 national, regional and local retail banners to deliver from more than 75,000 stores across more than 13,000 cities in North America. To read more Instacart posts, you can browse the company blog or search by keyword using the search bar at the top of the page.

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